Don Kenn

It seems fitting, on my first day at IDEO, to be posting a post about post-it notes on a blog entitled ‘Post-it’.

And so I give you Don Kenn – lovely illustrations on little post-its.



I guess this might be a little old – rehashing the question of ‘what is art’ perhaps. But reminds me a little of a Konstfack project done last year where two students produced a fake catalogue filled with some genuine but mostly fake projects. Copystand was an event set up at the Freize Art Fair where people created counterfeit versions of the art on display at the Fair. The results were sold at a fraction of the price.


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Today I almost fell for this. I received an email from the HM Revenue & Customs at 9:11 in the morning saying I’d received a tax refund for £988.50. Now the timing here is important. In the morning my brain takes a while to start working. This morning was no different and I didn’t think twice about this emails ‘simple’ html layout and clicked the link. Now if the above page had not been there I would have ignorantly proceeded to ultimately entering in my bank details to regain my refund.

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Clicking through to the fake HM Revenue website, my addled morning brain wouldn’t have even noticed the dodgy design. Only the url – – would have given it away.

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Clicking on a bank icon takes you to a page that is skinned exactly like your bank’s page. Again it’s only the url that gives it away.

In a very similar way I did this with the notebooks project. However rather than designed for scamming someone, the person was scamming me.

Extreme Queuing Tactics

Thanks to Stefan for coming out to meet me for the interview.

Mistake Methodology

As I’ve been creating this book for my thesis project, I’ve also been developing my methodology that i’ve extrapolated from research into error. I’ve then been applying this methodology to the everyday joy of queueing.

Blunders in Sweden seem to be generally treated with silent denial.

Slips and inefficient additions to a system are swiftly removed and put in their place.

Results to come…

While queue jumping is a criminal offense in britain, punishable by immense verbal abusing, it seems that in Sweden, in an average everyday queue, jumpers are tolerated. The old lady at the front actually turned around, smiled at me, and said hello.

Placebo Queues


Method = Omission

So far I’ve created 3 “Placebo Queues” in Newcastle, Uk and Stockholm, Sweden. A Placebo Queue is a queue that looks exactly like a queue, but is disfunctional in the fact that it has no reason; no goal. The people in the placebo queue are queueing just for the sheer pleasure of queueing.

Why create these queues with no reason? I am interested in if the passerby notices the error in the queue; if the queue creates a double take and gets one to question reality. A side-line to this is i’m interested in the amount of people it takes to create a queue as well as the behaviour of our queuers AND if any unsuspecting passerby actually joins the queue.

#01 – Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK

#02 – Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK

#03 – Stockholm, Sweden.

The results:
People were really quite curious of the “Bridge Queues.” The weather obviously was a major factor in people’s behaviour. Even so, the Stockholm Snow Queue got alot of laughs and even a few old ladies investigating if the sign in front of them said something about why they would be queueing. The queue with the fake leader, but real queuers, waited until a bus came then, realising the man was not queueing for the bus, all looked a bit bemused and made their way towards the bus. A few asked him what he was queuing for. The man said “no reason”.

Notebook Development


I’ve been testing more notebooks – this time in Newcastle, UK. Newcastle has a similar size and feel to Stockholm, and so provides a good city to compare cultural responses to my exercises in error.

There are two type of notebooks – one has white lettering on the outside (marked), the other is plain (unmarked).

The first notebook (marked) I dropped, after 30 minutes, no one picked up. The second (unmarked) I dropped I had someone running up to me immediately to try to give it back. The third, two rough characters eyed it up but refrained from picking it up. Finally someone did pick it up. Now it’s waiting to see if they are curious enough to follow the clues…




Placebo Queue

Roman Ondak, Good Feelings in Good Times, Frieze Art Fair, London, 2003

Roman Ondak, Good Feelings in Good Times. Frieze Art Fair, Lon 2003

So this is an idea I’ve been toying with since I started this research. And finally I’ve decided it is the route I should go down.

Context: Sweden
- the swedes are perhaps the best queuers in the world.

System: Queues
- they are spontaneous
- a symbol of order & civilised behaviour
- have their own rules
- culturally dependant

The natural ability for some nations, namely the Brits and the Swedes, to form queues when waiting is said to be a sign of civilisation and order. However some argue that it’s a mindless conditioned behaviour to follow the rules, and that those nations who don’t queue are more aware of what rules ought to be followed and what rules they know they really just have to go through the motions on. So if we can get people to question the queuing system, perhaps we can make them more aware of their inbuilt cultural behaviours and thus give them a space to re-evaluate their behaviour.

Fake queues are not uncommon. However many of these queues come from a top down, advertising-driven approach. Roman Ondak (above) is one artist who staged a static queue at the frieze art fair – a performance of a “moment of non-activity”. So what if a queue was formed from a more bottom-up approach? By the people, for the people.

Previously I’ve been trying to add errors to the queuing system to see how people behave when rules are broken, and things don’t work as expected. Now the next step is to subvert the queue itself. To take something that symbolises order and efficiency and process it through an absurd and playful lens. Basically a queue that leads to nowhere. Similar to Roman Ondak but I’m interested if people begin to join the queue, behaviours that arise from people waiting without needing to wait, and if passersby notice this error of social code, and question their perception and understanding of it.

The date for the staged queue will be around the end of March. I’m looking for a strange public space in stockholm to stage it and hope to bring some extra props – tents, korv grills, musicians, to elicit different experiences. Come!! All are welcome.

More google streetview antics

This time its angry norweigan divers.

See on google streetview

Placebo Paraphernalia for Favouring Frustration and Prompting Play.


It seems likely that the mechanism of the placebo response is through the production of what are called endogenous endorphins (naturally produced opiate substances) produced by the person being treated. Endorphins are released whenever we feel good, whatever the reason.

In pain, which I know best, approximately one third of patients will have a significant improvement in painful symptoms when treated with an inactive agent. This effect is increased if the doctor states that the new agent is superb. There is also a substantial placebo effect in depression and skin conditions, but much less effect in clear disease entities such as bronchitis and heart conditions.

- Stephen Tyrer, Psychiatrist and my Dad

That’s my Dad. He’s one of the leading researchers into placebo’s and their effect on depression. Alot of my Dad’s research looks into creating a believable experience for his patients as instrumental to the effect of the placebo. Queue the Experience Designer and Birgit Mager’s quote that “Experiences cannot really be designed, only the conditions that lead to experiences”. I’m taking the placebo approach on board full throttle now and aim to test it in eliciting a playful response in the face of frustration (caused by error). I’ve been finding some great examples of placebo’s used in a playful way to cope with fear, confusion and behavioural control.